Society

‘They Dislike That I Support PM Modi And Stand For Peace’: Babri Petitioner Iqbal Ansari On Attack By Co-Religionists In Ayodhya

Swati Goel Sharma

Apr 07, 2024, 02:11 PM | Updated 02:11 PM IST


Iqbal Ansari at his house
Iqbal Ansari at his house

Ayodhya resident Mohammed Iqbal Ansari, who was key litigant in the Babri mosque-Ram Janmabhoomi legal dispute from the Muslim side but publicly welcomed the supreme court verdict in 2019, was recently roughed up by his own community members for “supporting Prime Minister Narendra Modi”.

He says the assault was preceded by verbal threats issued to him.

Iqbal Ansari
Iqbal Ansari

On 5 April, which was a Friday, Ansari was in a mosque near his house in Mohalla Kothiya Panji Tola to offer namaz on the Islamic auspicious day of Jumma Alvida, the last Friday of the month of Ramzan.

Some media persons were outside the mosque, trying to record Ansari through a window in the premises. The window, usually open, was closed that day.

Ansari says it had been deliberately closed by the men who beat him up. He explained, “As I am a prominent figure in the dispute, it’s usual for media persons to record my footage on special occasions.”

It was clear to Ansari that something was amiss.

When he tried to open the window for camerapersons to record him, some men came and roughed him up, and stopped him from opening the window. A part of this scuffle was recorded by media persons standing outside. “Tum rajaniti karte ho (you indulge in politics),” the men told him.

Ansari later filed a complaint to the police, naming a man named Ayub Ansari alias Pappu and three accomplices.

This correspondent tried to contact Ayodhya police to know if a first information report (FIR) was filed on the complaint, but multiple calls remained unanswered. Ansari told this correspondent over the phone that he had yet to go to the police station again and ask about the status of his complaint.

He said that his stand supporting the current Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) does not go down well with several members of the Muslim community to which he belongs.

Notably, Ansari, who inherited the legal suit from his father late Mohammed Haji Hashim Ansari, publicly said in 2019 that he welcomed the supreme court verdict allotting the disputed land to the Hindus.

When the All India Muslim Personal Law Board announced a review petition against the verdict, Ansari distanced himself from it, saying, “There is no use of going for the review as the outcome will remain the same...the move will also vitiate the harmonious atmosphere.”

After the apex court verdict paved the way for the construction of the Ram Janmabhoomi temple, Ansari became the first person to be extended an invitation to the Bhoomi Pujan ceremony held on 5 August 2020, also attended by PM Modi. Ansari graciously accepted it, and told the media that he believed it was Lord Ram’s wish that he received the first invitation. 

Ansari was also invited to the Ram Janmabhoomi temple’s Pran Pratishtha ceremony on 22 January 2024. He says he first sensed hostility from Ayub and his group after he showered flowers on PM Modi’s motorcade during his roadshow in Ayodhya on 30 December. Ansari’s participation in the event was widely covered in the media.

Iqbal Ansari holding flowers during PM Modi's roadshow in Ayodhya
Iqbal Ansari holding flowers during PM Modi's roadshow in Ayodhya

About the attackers, Ansari told this correspondent, “They dislike that I stand for peace and harmony, and support PM Modi. They also envy me for the media and government attention I get. They cover up their hate saying I indulge in politics.”

Ansari says that when media persons ask him for his statement on this government, he replies positively. “If the railway station has been modernised, should I not talk about it? If Ayodhya is developing, should I not acknowledge it?” he asks.

After the incident, he is left shaken. Ayub and his accomplices live in a lane adjacent to his. “I have been getting direct and indirect threats since 30 December. On one occasion, the group beat up a man outside my house. It felt like a threat to me,” he says.

Ansari’s father in 1961 was named a litigant from the Muslim side when the community filed a petition in the district court against placing murtis under the central dome in 1949. He died in 2016 at the age of 96. 

Iqbal Ansari's residence
Iqbal Ansari's residence

The house in which the Ansaris live, about three kilometres from the Ram Janmabhoomi temple, says ‘Muddai Babri Masjid’ on the nameplate. Iqbal Ansari has been given two armed policemen for his security who remain with him at all times.

This correspondent met Ansari ahead of the Pran Pratishtha ceremony, and his profile can be read here


Swati Goel Sharma is a senior editor at Swarajya. She tweets at @swati_gs.

Get Swarajya in your inbox.


Magazine


A road trip through the poorest regions of India — its heartland